Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.
Factsheet for measure GB-2020-12/524 – Updated – measures in United Kingdom
|Country||United Kingdom , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Open ended, started on 17 March 2020|
|Type||Legislations or other statutory regulations|
Income protection beyond short-time work
– Paid sick leave
|Author||Claire Evans (Warwick University) and Eurofound|
|Measure added||13 April 2020 (updated 21 July 2020)|
As it is anticipated that many employees will be off sick with the virus (the Government states that in a worst case scenario, a fifth of all employees will be absent from work) and that a large proportion of these who work in SMEs will only have statutory entitlement, this measure allows eligible firms to claim back the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) they disburse to such employees.
The legal reference is the emergency legislation, the Coronavirus Act 2020. Section 39 is the relevant regulation (which amends The Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992); this section gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations to allow businesses to reclaim SSP payments from the Government for absences related to coronavirus. The Explanatory Notes say that if it is necessary, regulations could be made to allow larger employers to reclaim the costs of SSP as well.Regulations on the SSP rebate have not yet been made. However, on 3 April 2020 the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published guidance on a forthcoming Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.
In Budget 2020, the UK Government announced that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs for businesses with fewer than 250 employees would be met in full for up to 14 days per employee. The Chancellor estimates that this will cost up to GBP 2 billion and help up to 2 million businesses. In its factsheet on government support for those affected by Covid-19, HM Treasury said that the eligibility criteria for the scheme would be as follows:
SSP is the minimum that employers have to pay out to qualifying sick employees. It is currently paid at GBP 94.25 per week (GBP 95.85 from 6 April 2020) and can be paid for up to 28 weeks. In order to qualify for SSP, an employee’s average weekly earnings must be above GBP 118 (GBP 120 from 6 April 2020). Some employers may pay enhanced sick pay over and above the SSP rate. This would be detailed in an employment contract. The self-employed are not eligible for SSP.
The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/287) came into force on 13 March 2020. These Regulations (as amended) make it clear in law that employees are entitled to SSP if they are unable to work because they are self-isolating as a result of them or someone in their household showing symptoms of coronavirus. Normally, SSP is paid from the fourth day of absence. However, on the 28 March, the Government made the Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/374). These provide that SSP is payable from the first day of absence where a worker is self-isolating because they or someone in their household has shown symptoms of coronavirus. The Regulations have retrospective from 13 March 2020. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Secretary of State has the power to make regulations to allow businesses to reclaim SSP payments from the Government for absences related to coronavirus. The Explanatory Notes say that if it is necessary, regulations could be made to allow larger employers to reclaim the costs of SSP as well.
Regulations on the SSP rebate have not yet been made. However, on 3 April 2020 the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published guidance on a forthcoming Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.
The guidance says that employers will be covered in the following circumstances: If employers are:
The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including: * full-time employees * part-time employees * employees on agency contracts * employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.
Uptake currently unknown as there is no data available at this stage. It will apply to those employees working in organisations employing 250 or under, who are away from work due to coronavirus. This also applies if such employees are self-isolating due to a member of their household being unwell with the virus.
|Does not apply to workers||
||Does not apply to citizens|
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Form||Not applicable||Not applicable|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
The social partners were informed as to the raft of measures introduced by the Government by way of response to the coronavirus crisis. However, the partners were not involved in the design, implementation or monitoring of this measure.
The measure - as with others in the raft - were not the result of social dialogue with the partners. Rather, the Government announced the measure as being decided unilaterally. It is probable that there was informal consultation, particularly with business.
Eurofound (2020), Reclaiming of statutory sick pay by SMEs, measure GB-2020-12/524 (measures in United Kingdom), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/GB-2020-12_524.html
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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.